DINING:The food was absolutely amazing. Due to the itinerary of this trip, I could not eat some meals in the dining room as I had early sitting. We had a table of 8 fixed early and our table companions were fabulous. We got along great. All different ages and from Canada, East Coast US, West Coast US and the Southern US. We would be still sitting there when they were getting ready for the next sitting.Now the food - the menu was quite extensive with something different every night of the 14 day cruise. They also had some items the same for those that were not as daring to try different types of food. The cold soups were the best I have ever tasted anywhere. Due to the itinerary, we only ate breakfast in the dining room twice and the lido a couple of times. Most times we ordered room service for breakfast so we could be getting ready. The room service came on-time every day except one and the food was great.I did not try the Pinnacle Grill as the other food choices were substantial. The chocolate chip cookies are to die for!!!!!CABINS:Our cabin was an SS cabin and was an upgrade. It was fabulous. We had a two section bathroom (toilet and sink in one section & bathtub and sink in the other section). This was great. We had a nice walk-in closet. Beds were very comfortable. Fresh fruit delivered daily (per our request at no ENTERTAINMENT:The shows were typical Vegas type shows but were well done. The crew show was well worth watching. Some very talented people here. The cruise director and DJ worked at keeping everyone involved. SPA & FITNESS:I did not use the pool or gym as I found there was little time. I did have a massage on my last of 4 back to back long shore days and it was great."Elegant Explorer" Prinsendam was great. The size off the ship meant you met many people and it was great. As I am in my early 40's, I did find that most of the people on the ship were older but I still had a great time and would travel on the Prinsendam again.
Great room as it was an upgrade. Great balcony! Separate toilet (with sink) and then bathtub/sink in attached area. The bathtub is quite high so if you have mobility issues it might be something to consider although there are grip bars. Large walk - in closet. Room was across from the laundry which was handy to do our own laundry. Only downside was that it was right below the Lido deck and several times we could hear the chairs moving around on the Lido deck above us. It did stop usually prior to us sleeping but started very early in the morning.
Our tour guide Effie was fabulous. She gave us lots of information about everything without giving us information overload which sometimes you can get. As Katakolon and the museum were extremely crowded she was able to keep our group together. She had a great deal of knowledge and even knew answers to questions that were thrown at her. Overall a great tour.
The Catacombs were very interesting to see...but for the photographers among you also very disappointing. No pictures are allowed and that is even without a flash. At Pompey's pillar there was a little bit of walking up to the pillar and it was somewhat interesting. The museum would have been better without a guide trying to tell us everything. It echoed in the museum and we could not all hear our guide although she was good and had a strong voice. A few of us left the group and walked around the museum around our own. We could read the signs and got most of it however we probably missed a bit of things that the guide was saying. A Must See here however is the tomb and sarcophagus. It is near the washrooms.
I chose to go to Cairo from Port Said. It was very interesting going through the city. We went by convoy almost to Cairo (which is aa 2 hour bus ride). Our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us information off and on the entire trip.
Sakkara (or Saqqara) was interesting as the step pyramid was unique.
We were asked if we wanted to go in the pyramid which was an additional cost. It is very claustrophobic. You bend down and walk inside heading down then small area to stand up quickly and you bend down again to walk up to the inner chamber. In the inner chamber there is nothing but a guard and and external coffin where the sarcophagus would have been. You can not take your camera and really nothing to see - but if you want to see the inside of a pyramid then pay the $2 or so to see it. It may not be open forever.
Our guide also told us that he had someone set up for camel rides and pictures at the pyramids. We paid $1.00 for a picture and $3. for a ride. Use someone that the guide recommends or that is prearranged with them. Some travellers ended up being told it would be $2 - $4 but when they got on the camels were advised they would have to pay more to get off and had too.
The food was very good at the hotel.
Tour was great and our guide was available for questions on the way back however most of us were too exhausted and slept.
Ashdod - I decided to forgo the Bethlehem tour and from other travellers was advised that this was wise as they got to Palestine both driver and guide had to get off the bus and new driver and guide had to get on to continue the trip. I choose to go to sites of Jerusalem.
Our guide was very good. He was actually from New York City and had since moved to a moshav in Israel. He was extremely informative on the way from Ashdod to Jerusalem. He explained the difference from a Kibbutz to a Moshav. He was now only knowledgeable in the Jewish faith and beliefs but Christianity and Islam (as it ties to the religious sites).
I learned a lot and it was a great day.
The day started early, but we saw a lot. This is a beautiful area of Israel and if you have never seen it before, I would highly recommend it. Mount of Beatitudes gave a spectacular view of Sea of Galilee and the gardens there were amazing. Nazareth itself was completely not what I expected. Lunch was served at a Kibbutz and was good. There was a great variety of food and lots of it. It had a nice gift shop but they did not have change for US dollars. I would recommend you get some Shekels on the ship if available or have Euros available. Jordan river was nice. A big gift store here and not much else unless you want to get baptized however it is very scenic. A nice way to end of 4 busy port days.
We were in this port for two days. It gave me a chance to do two separate excursions.
DAY 1 - Ephesus & Terrace Houses
Ephesus is amazing and I would definitely go back.
I missed the toilets - they are between the spot you enter the Terrace Houses and when you leave. The terrace house were great. It is very interesting seeing the actual putting together of the pieces of marble together and watching the archaeologists working. It is an active spot. The houses are unbelievable and to think that archaeologists think that they go right up the whole hillside. The colours and mosaics are fabulous. I could have spent a whole day in Ephesus and the Terrace Houses. Well worth going there!
We stopped at the carpet weaving demo after the tour which all tours to Kusadasi do. I loved the Turkish Tea. The markets all around are great. Be sure to haggle at the small stores. After dinner,we left the ship again and a couple of us went to some more of the markets. Nice to be able to walk off the ship when we wanted too.
DAY 2 - Three Ancient Cities: Priene, Didyma & Miletus
Fabulous! If you like ruins then this is the place. The ruins are great. You can touch them and walk where people walked years ago, especially in Didyma. There is a lot of walking and it is very steep especially in Priene but well worth the walk.
We had a great guide and he was very knowledgeable. On the way back we stopped again at a carpet place. This day I did not go as I had already been the day before.
Santorini island was very nice. The houses looked just like you would see in post cards. The panoramic tour provided a great overview of the island as well as a stop in time to walk in Oia (pronounced Ee - ah). We also drove through Fira and went to a winery.
On this tour we were taken back to the old port and then tendered back to the ship. We did not have to wait in the line for the gondola (which was up to 1/2 hr at times) or the donkey ride down.
Overall I would recommend the Panoramic if you just want a nice relaxing day. If you are expecting a tour of a winery then you will be disappointed but the visit to the winery was nice.